Anda di halaman 1dari 36

our Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada

World Environment Day, 5 June

Jean-Louis Borloo
Green Growth

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal

Solar Revolution

Fernando Haddad
The magazine of the United Nations Environment Programme - May 2009 Learning for life

LoremPLANET ipsum
consectetur YOU
practical action
pAgE 6 JUAN RAFAEL ELVIrA QUESADA : Building the bridge
describes how Mexico will raise global awareness on World Environment Day, 5 June.

JEAN-LOUIS BOrLOO : Green growth

pAgE 8 describes the French government’s plans to lay the foundations of green growth.

HRH PrINCE EL HASSAN bIN TALAL : Solar revolution

pAgE 11 explains how a cooperative programme of harnessing solar power from the deserts
could power the world cleanly and sustainably and combat climate change.

FErNANDO HADDAD : Learning for life

pAgE 14 outlines how the increasing force of environmental education in a remarkable Brazilian initiative.

ANNA LEhMANN : Money can grow on trees

pAgE 20 describes how, with positive incentives to communities and Governments to maintain forests,
standing trees could become a new commodity on world markets.

Our Planet, the magazine of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Distribution Manager: Manyahleshal Kebede | Design: Amina Darani
PO Box 30552 Nairobi, Kenya | Tel: (254 20)7621 234 Produced by: UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information
Fax: (254 20)7623 927 | e-mail: Printed by: Progress Press | Distributed by: SMI Books

To view current and past issues of this publication online, please visit www.unep. The contents of this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of
org/ourplanet UNEP or the editors, nor are they an official record. The designations employed
and the presentation do not imply the expressions of any opinion whatsoever on
ISSN 101 - 7394 the part of UNEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory or city or its
authority or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Director of Publication: Satinder Bindra | Editor: Geoffrey Lean
Coordinator: Naomi Poulton | Assistant Coordinator: Anne-France White * All dollar ($) amounts refer to US dollars.
Special Contributor: Nick Nuttall | Editorial Assistant : Wambui Munge Cover Photo: © Gallo Images/Getty Images


DIpAL ChANDrA BArUA : Green Light pAgE 24
shows how affordable renewable energy is bringing power
and employment to poor rural people.

LI YAN : Low-carbon China pAgE 28

describes what her country is doing to combat climate change, and calls for
urgent action to build a green economy.

ShAI AgASSI : Driving away oil addiction pAgE 30

explains how environmental and economic interests are being realigned to make
a revolutionary system of electric cars a reality.

SHAKIRA : Doing it for the kids pAgE 34

describes her projects to help save the poorest and most vulnerable children
around the world.


books pAgE 4
reflections pAgE 5
awards and events pAgE 10
numbers pAgE 13
UNEP promotes products pAgE 17
environmentally sound practices practical action pAgE 18
globally and in its own activities.
verbatim pAgE 23
This magazine is printed on 100% recycled
paper, using vegetable -based inks and other people pAgE 26
eco-friendly practices. Our distribution policy www pAgE 33
aims to reduce UNEP’s carbon footprint.
books energy can be a part of their professional future. It highlights, a slew of job
sectors including solar and wind energy, biofuels, hydrogen energy and fuel
cells, geothermal energy, hydro energy, green building, climate study, energy
management and efficiency, and much more.

The Natural Fix? The role of ecosystems in

climate mitigation
The rapid response assessment on biosequestration
A Roadmap for a Secure, Low-Carbon
Economy: Balancing Energy Security and
provides a synthesis of the current state of
Climate Change
for a
Secure, Low-Carbon Energy Economy

knowledge regarding the role of biological systems, Sarah Landislaw, Kathryn Zyla, Jonathan Pershing,
including natural ecosystems, agri-ecosystems, Frank Verrastro, Jenna Goodward, David Pumphrey,
and bio-engineered systems, in sequestering carbon. Potential policies to Britt Childs Staley (World Resources Institute, 2009)
increase biosequestration are examined taking into consideration the social, SARAH LADISLAW

economic and environmental aspects involved, as well as potential trade-offs.


This report, released by the Center for Strategic &

The assessment also looks at the impacts of climate change on the capacity of International Studies (CSIS) Energy and National
systems to absorb carbon. Security Program and the World Resources Institute, identifies a set of policies
to address energy security and climate change simultaneously. Furthermore,
the roadmap creates a three-part framework for thinking about the
transition to a secure, low-carbon economy.
The Environmental Food Crisis: The Environment’s Role in
w w w. u n e p.o rg

Averting Future Food Crises

A new rapid response assessment report released

Gorillas: The Gentle Giants
by UNEP cautions that unless action is taken,
Martin Harvey, Letitia Farris-Toussaint
nearly twenty-five percent of the world’s food
(Evans Mitchell Publications, 2009)
production may be lost due to environmental
degradation by 2050. Prepared by the Rapid
This 132 page book features a combination of
Response Assessment Team at UNEP/GRID-Arendal
informative text and striking images designed
and UNEP-WCMC, the report provides the first summary by the UN of how
to take us through the history, features and
climate change, water stress, invasive pests and land degradation may impact
habits of gorillas. The reader gets a sense
world food security, food prices and life on the planet and how we may be able
of the fascinating creatures’ family life, their
to feed the world in a more sustainable manner. The report calls for intelligent
environments and the problems they face in the future. The author, Letitia
and creative approaches to recycling food wastes and fish discards.
Farris-Toussaint, discusses gorillas’ fight for survival as they are faced with
problems of poaching, disease, deforestation, and the effect of armed conflict.
The fact that these majestic creatures are one of man’s closest relatives
(second only to Chimpanzees) becomes abundantly clear by looking at their
World Water Development Report 3: expressions and gestures caught in Martin Harvey’s photographs. The launch of
Bridging Divides for Water this book supported the survival of gorilla populations and marked the Year of
(Earthscan, 2008) the Gorilla (YoG) 2009.

The United Nations World Water Development report,

launched at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul
in March 2009, shows that urgent action is needed
Biofuels and Rural Poverty
if we are to avoid a global water crisis. Written and
Joy Clancy, Jon Lovett (Earthscan, 2009)
coordinated by the 26 UN agencies and entities which make up UN-Water, the
report provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of the world’s freshwater
The role of biofuels in poverty reduction is
resources. It also, for the first time, shows how changes in water demand and
typically explored from an energy security or
supply are affected by and affect other global dynamics.
climate change perspective. This book on the
other hand explores the potential consequences
of large-scale production of transport fuel
substitutes on rural areas, principally in
Careers in Renewable Energy: developing countries but also in some poor rural areas of developed countries.
Get a Green Energy Job Three key concerns are examined with a North-South perspective: ecological
Gregory McNamee (PixyJack Press, 2008) issues (related to land use and biodiversity), pro-poor policies (related to food
and land security, gender and income generation) and equity of benefits within
This book contains a wealth of information the global value chain. Questions raised in the book include whether or not
and resources for anyone searching for a job in biofuels can be pro-poor, and if smallholder farmers can be equitably integrated
the fast-growing field of renewable energy. Readers can discover how green in the biofuels global supply chain.


locking it away in tree trunks and branches, and returning it
to soils when leaves are shed. But instead of maintaining and
enhancing nature’s own solution, the world is destroying it.
Indeed some 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come
from clearing and burning forests.

Paying tropical forested countries to manage forests could

reverse this and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and
Forest Degradation (REDD) must be a key component of ‘sealing
the deal’ at December’s crucial UN climate convention meeting
in Copenhagen. By one estimate, Indonesia alone could get

compensation of $1 billion a year by reducing its deforestation
rate to one million hectares annually.

UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre estimates that

some 15 per cent of carbon is locked away in trees and forests
in the world’s National Parks and protected areas. Boosting
AChIM StEINEr investment in these could not just increase carbon capture
UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP and storage but trigger a wide range of other benefits, from
soil and water stabilization and reduced biodiversity loss to
improved tourism revenues and new jobs. Mexico — the global
World Environment Day (WED) is your day — an host of WED 2009, which has Latin America’s second largest
occasion for the public to demonstrate, by practical closed-canopy forest — is among those in the forefront of the
and inspiring grass roots action that positive REDD debate.
environmental change is alive and kicking in
villages, towns and cites across the globe. It also Other natural systems — from peatlands and wetlands to
needs to be a Day for transformational thinking grasses, soils and shrubs — also have the ability either to release
and intellectual debate, which is why UNEP or to absorb carbon. The seas and oceans are cycling up to
commissioned a study on biosequestration — an 40 per cent of CO2 emissions for free.
inelegant word perhaps but one with extremely
elegant and far-reaching implications. Over the past 10,000 years, farming has domesticated and
promoted single season annually cropped cereal, oil and
Carbon capture and storage is an increasingly leguminous plants. But experts suggest that moving ‘back to
popular solution to the climate change the future’ to perennials, multi-year crops with deep roots,
challenge. The idea is that carbon emissions will boost soil fertility and stability 50 fold and may prove more
from power stations and other sources can be resilient in a climate changed world. They are also 50 per cent
captured, consigned to underground stores better at carbon capture and storage than their annual cousins.
in the earth’s geology, and contained within And because they do not need to be planted every year, there
them. By some estimates it could contribute is less need to use energy-burning farm machinery, pesticides
15 to over 50 per cent of the global effort to and fertilizers.
stabilize emissions of greenhouse gases at 450 to
750 parts per million. Carbon capture and storage may seem a simple and straight
forward technological fix, but does it make our economies
Not everyone is convinced, however. Some more resource and more fuel efficient, or simply perpetuate a
experts are concerned that the technology is not dependency on fossil fuels and energy insecurity. What if the
tried and tested and that the CO2, instead of being hundreds of billions of dollars now being invested in it were
locked away, could suddenly bubble back into partly diverted into its biological counterpart. This well proven,
the atmosphere. natural system could well provide, as they say, “a bigger bang
for our buck”, which not only removes carbon dioxide but
Yet there is another form of carbon capture and addresses wider sustainability challenges including a true
storage that has been perfected over hundreds of Green Revolution and the poverty-related UN Millennium
millions of years. Forests naturally remove carbon, Development Goals.
© Gallo Images/ Getty Images

the bridge
e n e e d this planet becaus
we do not have anywhere els
e to live.”

Mexico is no stranger to hosting the of the country. The celebrations

UN’s premier outreach event on the will provide an opportunity for
environment – World Environment the government to demonstrate
Day (WED). The country last how its payments to hundreds
hosted it in 1990, and late last of thousands of poor people for
year won a fiercely competitive protecting forests not only helps in
bid to become only the second the fight against climate change,
country after China to do so twice. but can also alleviate poverty.

The theme of this year’s World This year the international

Environment Day is `Your Planet community will also be
Needs You – Unite to Combat watching the event closely,
jUAN rAFAEL ELVIrA qUESADA Climate Change’. As part of its because WED takes place
responsibilities, the Mexican just months before what it is
Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural
Resources speaks with Satinder Bindra government will stage festivities hoped will be a meaningful
over five days in various parts deal for reducing greenhouse
Here are some excerpts: the forests in Mexico. This solution
could be part of the world solution
Mr Secretary, why did Mexico decide in many of the continents, like
to host the World Environment Africa, Asia, Latin America. What
Day festivities and what does this we want to show is that everybody
really mean for the country? can work towards climate change,
and we can work towards reducing
“We needed to push environmental poverty and we can also work
topics on to the national agenda, towards saving the forests.”
and we think it is a very good
opportunity for Mexico to show You talked about combating climate
how we can work together – all change, but what about reducing
the countries — to make a call to emissions? Is that going to come
everybody to create awareness up in all the discussions and
of the need to work on the seminars during these celebrations?
environment. I think it is very
important for Mexico, for Central “Yes, we want to show the world
America and for all the world.” our special program for climate
change. The president wants
You talked about reaching the to show the world what we are
region around Mexico, and also the doing to mitigate or cope with
world: so can you give us a flavour Climate Change. Mexico can
of what has been planned for 5th reach a voluntary goal [to reduce
June and the days surrounding it? emissions] and can work with the
rest of the world because everyone
“We are including all of society as in the world can do something
a whole – young people, students, against climate change. You are
children, businessmen and NGO’s part of this planet and your planet
– in the celebrations. The point is needs you. To put it another way,
to showcase five different places we need this planet because we do
– Lakes, Rivers, Beaches, Forests not have anywhere else to live.”
and these kinds of ecosystems –
all in different parts of Mexico. Mr Secretary, in December this
We have to show how we are year there will be a very important
going to protect these places. meeting in Copenhagen to try
to reduce growing emissions.
gas emissions in Copenhagen, For World Environment Day we Can WED 2009 do anything
Denmark, in December. will invite people to do something to convince the countries of the
related to cultural activities, world that an agreement there
As one of its planned activities academic and scientific activities, is critical for the planet?
for WED, Mexico has pledged activities in general for all of
to act as a bridge between society, so that everybody can “Yes of course we want to build
the North and South to help be part not only of the problem the bridge for many countries to
seal a deal in Copenhagen. but also of the solution.” go to Copenhagen and reach the
To find out more about Mexico’s agreement. It does not depend
environmental ambitions and What is the message you want on where you are and what is
WED plans, UNEP’s director of to send to the rest of the world your classification, it depends
communications Satinder Bindra during these celebrations? on how you can invite everyone
sat down for a freewheeling in the world to work and help to
discussion with Mexico’s Secretary “We think that we can tackle a big get a good agreement, a world
of State for the Environment, problem called climate change by agreement to really protect the
Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada. reducing poverty and by protecting environment and the planet.”
© Solus-Veer/Corbis

the backdrop
of the global
credit crisis and
economic change, the
Grenelle Environnement
will cause investment
of some 400 billion euros
and create
more than
550,000 jobs
in France.”

is Minister of Environment, Energy, Sustainable
Development and Land Management – France

While the world awaits its December date with destiny unions and businesses. After several months of activities
in Copenhagen, France intends to show that sustainable and negotiations, it produced a sectoral sustainable
development is both possible and a source of well- development strategy for the next 10–15 years. This
being, competitiveness, growth and employment. Two aims to lay the foundations for a new growth model -
years ago, spurred on by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the ‘green growth’, based on efficiency and effectiveness,
French Government launched a wide ranging concerted carbon and energy savings and quality of life.
approach known as the ‘Grenelle Environnement’,
a round table bringing together all sustainable The Grenelle Environnement has a series of goals that
development stakeholders, including the State, local can be quantified and evaluated. They include cutting
authorities, non-governmental organizations, trade greenhouse gas emissions fourfold between 1990 and


2050, reducing the energy consumption of by 40 per cent. The average emissions of new

© Solus-Veer/Corbis
existing developed land by 38 per cent, cutting vehicles sold in France have fallen by 9 grams
carbon dioxide emissions from transport by of carbon dioxide per kilometre in a single
20 per cent by 2020 and increasing the share year, six times the previous rate of progress,
of renewable energy used to 23 per cent by
2020. It is based on six major fields of work, France also wants to encourage its automobile
three of which are directly related to efforts to manufacturers to market vehicles that emit
combat climate change: buildings, transport little pollution as swiftly as possible, given
and renewable energies. that these are universally accepted to be the
future. The Government will therefore invest
Buildings are responsible for more than one some 400 million euros over three years in
quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions, so the researching them. And from this year, in its
strategy provides for the general introduction quest to set a good example, it will undertake
of a ‘low consumption’ standard (50 kWh/ a thoroughgoing review of its fleet with a view
m2/year) for new buildings from 2012. to replacing any vehicles over 10 years old with
By 2020 ‘positive energy’ buildings — those more energy efficient ones.
that produce more than energy than they
consume — will be widely introduced. There will The Grenelle Environnement also marks a
also be a thoroughgoing thermal rehabilitation genuine watershed in the use of renewable
programme aimed at renovating some energies. Last November, I outlined a
400,000 homes per year. French tax policy has significant renewable energy development
been amended to encourage people to finance plan to exploit our potential to the full. Over
such schemes, or buy particularly energy- 12 years it will double our annual production of
efficient homes, with the introduction of an renewables increasing our geothermal energy
interest free eco loan. capacities sixfold , our wind energy tenfold ,
and our photovoltaic solar energy 400 times
As for transport, the Grenelle Environnement’s over. We are also going to launch major energy
goal is to provide a credible and sustainable infrastructure projects: renewing contracts for
alternative to road travel. This is not a question the 400 largest French dams, constructing
of imposing bans or restrictions, but of giving at least one solar power station per region by
people the freedom to choose how they wish to 2011 and launching a major call for tenders
move around. So it provides for constructing to produce electricity from biomass, creating
an additional 2,000 kilometres of high speed integrated power of 250 MW, equivalent to one
train lines, 1,500 kilometres of new public fourth of the output of a large nuclear power
transport routes in towns and cities, three plant. And we will spend 1 billion euros over
marine highways and two rolling roads (which the next two years on developing renewable
carry lorries by rail) to encourage a modal shift heat with the goal of equipping some 2 million
in goods. homes with heat pumps by 2020.

We have also tested the idea of a ‘green price’, Against the backdrop of the global credit
as a result of the success of our ‘green bonus’ crisis and economic change, the Grenelle
scheme. A tax on the most polluting vehicles Environnement will cause investment of
means that cleaner ones are subsidized and some 400 billion euros and create more than
cheaper.The aim is to entice consumers into 550,000 jobs in France. The strategy is founded
buying the ones with the lowest carbon and fuel on three certainties. First, that our current
consumption and to encourage manufacturers growth model is not viable in the long term.
to offer ever more energy efficient products. Second, that an economy that consumes less
Just one year on the French automotive market energy is an economy that spends less money
is changing shape. Sales of vehicles emitting and is therefore more competitive. Third and
no more than 130 grams of carbon dioxide per last, that carbon neutrality, energy efficiency
kilometre have risen by half, while those of and quality of life are the three key competitive
ones emitting more than 160 grams have fallen advantages in tomorrow’s economic battle.


ICLEI World Congress 2009
From 14 to 18 June, over 700 local and national government leaders as well

as leaders from the UN, NGOs, academia and the business community will come
together in Edmonton, Canada for the ICLEI World Congress 2009. The Congress, held under the
theme “Connecting leaders”, will explore the achievements of the most advanced cities and
towns, and debate what can be done to advance local action for sustainability.
Green Star Awards

World Migratory Birds Day

World Migratory Bird Day, which started in
2006, is a global awareness-raising campaign
highlighting the need for the protection of Green Star
migratory birds and their habitats. This year’s
The Green Star Awards are a joint initiative
theme is ‘Barriers to Migration’ - highlighting
between the UN Office for the Coordination
the many man-made obstacles birds face during their migration. On 9-10 May, people around the
of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Environment
world took action and organized public events such as bird festivals, education programmes and
Programme and Green Cross International to
birdwatching excursions. The Day’s activities take place in many different countries and places,
recognize those who have made remarkable
and are all linked through the global theme. Anyone interested in organizing an event to mark
efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond
World Migratory Bird Day can do so and is encouraged to register their planned activity on the
to environmental disasters around the
campaign website.
world. The awards, given every two years, aim to raise the profile of environmental
emergencies and disasters and underline the
connection between environmental impacts of
Home natural disasters, technological accidents and
Home is a new feature-length film by world-renowned French photographer Yann complex emergencies, and their consequences
Arthus-Bertrand which will be released for free around the world on 5 June for World for affected populations and providers of
Environment Day. Yann Arthus-Bertrand takes viewers on a unique journey all around humanitarian assistance.
the planet to contemplate and understand its workings and show us that the marks we leave behind
are having a negative impact on its well being. The film is a travel notebook showing only landscapes Among the inaugural winners of the Green
captured from above. In this sense Home calls for a new awareness, because as we observe ourselves Star Awards announced in May were: the
from the air, we see our world in a whole new light. This step back gives us pause to consider our Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland; the Center
interaction with the environment. The movie is a non-profit initiative, and income generated from its for Scientific Support in Disaster Situations
viewing will be transferred to Arthus-Bertrand’s association, GoodPlanet, which fights for the protection (CENACID) in Brazil; the governments of Sweden
of the environment. The shooting of the film was carbon neutral and the carbon emissions that were and The Netherlands; and an environmental
produced during filming were offset by the support of environment-friendly projects. response specialist, Michael Cowing, of UNEP.

International Day for Biological Diversity

Invasive alien species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Since the 17th century, they have contributed to nearly 40 per cent of all animal
extinctions for which the cause is known. This was the focus of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May. The Day aims to raise public awareness
and devise practical steps to tackle the problem. Meanwhile, time is running out to achieve the 2010 goal to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss
at the global, regional and national level, as agreed in 2002 by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Tunza Youth Conference

The Tunza International Children and Youth Conference in Daejeon (Korea) in August will gather one thousand children and youth to
share their views and concerns on climate change and develop a statement which will be presented to the December 2009 climate
change meeting in Copenhagen. UNEP is co-organizing the conference with the UNEP National Committee of Korea, in partnership
with UNICEF and other key UN partners. The 800 children and 200 youth will discuss topics ranging from global warming to
biodiversity, green jobs and sustainable lifestyles. A Global Town Hall meeting on 20 August will connect the conference via
webcasting to virtual participants around the world, including high profile UN officials and political and business leaders.


© Digital Art/Corbis
revo lu t ion


is the founder of the Hashemite Aid and Relief Agency
and President Emeritus of Religions for Peace, and was
President of the Club of Rome 1999 to 2007

Environmental stability is an essential human need

and right. It flows from our commitment to ensuring
a sustainable quality of life and human dignity,
emphasising our connectedness with all living beings,
and our responsibility to our only planet, the Earth.

Yet, as Dennis Meadows tells us in his Thirty Years Update

of Limits to Growth, humanity is now overburdening
the carrying capacity of Mother Earth by a factor of
1.2. Furthermore 85 per cent of the consumption
and depletion of natural capital is caused by the ‘rich
minority’, 20 per cent of the world population.

At the same time, as the EastWest Institute and the

International Task Force on Preventive Diplomacy
remind us: “The Foreign Policy 2007 Failed State Index
reports that weak and failing states are often both
the result of conflict and the cause of fresh conflict ... “The harmful impact of climate extremes
‘breeding grounds for terrorism, organised crime, on human livelihoods,
weapons proliferation, humanitarian emergencies, combined with heightened competition
environmental degradation and political extremism’.
for scarce resources,
At the same time, new threats, such as competition
over land and water resources arising from population
has triggered disputes over territory,
pressures and aggravated by climate change, food and water supplies
have emerged.” — and over social and cultural traditions.”
Pessimists further assert that world’s technology belt and
— even if the UN Millennium its sun belt to fight climate
Development Goals were met change, energy shortage and
“Solar power from deserts — through
— the world in 2015 would water scarcity.
still have 900 million people cooperation between the sun
who have to walk more than and technological belts Using solar energy – or any
a mile a day to get drinking — will be cheaper than power produced other form of renewable
water and 1.6 billion with no from fossil fuels, especially if these energy – should be achieved
sanitation facilities — while in in an environmentally
are charged with their unpaid compatible way. Here the
2020, more than two billion
people would still live in environmental costs.” deserts of the earth can play
urban slums. a key role. Day by day they
receive about 700 times more
How can we accept a situation where 20 per cent of energy from the sun than humankind consumes by
the world’s population produces 85 per cent of its burning fossil fuels. They have the best conditions for
environmental degradation? As the capacity of the solar radiation and would experience the least impact
natural world to absorb carbon dioxide diminishes, from deploying collectors to harness it. Here clean
the problems created by growing energy use can only power can be sustainably produced by solar thermal
increase exponentially. We have no choice but to power plants at any volume of conceivable demand.
concentrate our abilities on alleviating the suffering of It can then be transmitted by high voltage direct
humanity and the environment. current lines to more than 90 per cent of the world’s
population. This gives our deserts a new role. Together
Total worldwide energy use is now 8 billion tons of oil- with the many other forms of accessible renewable
equivalent per year. This might increase to 40 billion energy, they would enable us to replace fossil fuels
tons by the year 2060. Thereafter, known deposits would and so end the ongoing destruction of our natural
only be adequate for the next 80-100 years depending living conditions.
on the speed at which consumerist development
steams ahead. Solar power from deserts — through cooperation
between the sun and technological belts — will be
The harmful impact of climate extremes on human cheaper than power produced from fossil fuels,
livelihoods, combined with heightened competition especially if these are charged with their unpaid
for scarce resources, has triggered disputes over environmental costs. It can provide sufficient
territory, food and water supplies — and over social and sustainable electricity to meet the demand of fast
cultural traditions. My region, West Asia-North Africa growing populations in the WANA region, and deliver
(WANA), is overwhelmed with conflicts and disputes, energy for the sea water desalination required to avoid
and no political mechanisms for conflict resolution or a fresh-water crisis. It can stimulate industrialisation
prevention exist. The area in which these disputes take and economic development by becoming a long-term
place covers the northwest corner of Africa, southeast export product, and promote energy and
to the Congo and the Sudan, the Arabian Sea and then water security.
north to the top of the energy ellipse that contains
70 per cent of the world’s oil and 40 per cent of its gas. Significantly, projects like DESERTEC can also open
a new chapter in relations between the people of the
Supra-national cooperation in joint water and energy European Union and WANA. Their governments
projects could create renewable energy to power the must establish adequate political, legal and financial
world’s growing population and provide fresh water frameworks to enable new forms of cooperation and
from desalination without harming the environment. investment. Constructing new concentrating solar
The DESERTEC concept examines creating secure, thermal power plants has already begun already in Spain
clean, and affordable power from the largest but least- and in the USA. In the WANA region, initial projects
tapped source of energy on earth, solar radiation in are being developed in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco
deserts. It could be put into service for energy, water and are planned in Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, and United
and climate security for Europe and the WANA region Arab Emirates. Algeria and Morocco have already
through pursuing solar cooperation between the brought in feed-in tariffs for clean power.


Providing people with practical
means of combating climate change
should be associated with giving 3.6 million 8
them hope for a better future. This Cost in US$ for offsetting all Percentage by which airlines
can be done worldwide by achieving the greenhouse gas will reduce their carbon
fundamental human rights and emissions (estimated emissions this year. About
empowering the silent majority – the at 300,000 tonnes), 6 per cent of the forecast
poor and the vulnerable. Their well- which will be produced carbon cut will come as
being and rights – and the carrying by the Vancouver 2010 a result of carriers flying
capacity of our planet — must be Games, including those fewer planes in 2009,
given particular attention through from airplanes bringing and a further 1.8 per cent
a focus on human security, to avoid thousands of athletes and reflects steps to improve
spectators to the western energy efficiency
stalling and reversing the turning
Canadian city — International Air
wheel of human development.
— Vancouver Organizing Transport Association
Collective efforts — engaging states,
Committee (IATA)
enterprises, civil society groups
and individuals — are essential in
developing a common global action
plan to ensure world stability. 501 40
Number of UN-backed clean Percentage of the world’s
energy projects in China electricity that renewable
The world’s consumers and
as part of the Clean energy technologies such
producers of prosperity are the same
Development Mechanism, as wind and solar power
people. They are at the receiving end as of 31 March 2009. could supply by 2050
of the effects of historic greenhouse China has the highest — Helsinki University of
gas emissions, which are hurting number of such projects, Technology
the rich a little and the poor a lot! followed by India (with
The early developed world — the 411) and Brazil (with
USA, Canada, Europe and Japan — 156). Globally, the United
has an average per capita GNP of Nations has approved 51.4
$34,000 a year: in the remaining, 1,539 pojects around the Billions of dollars in worldwide
world — Reuters revenue created by wind
later developing world it is
power in 2008
$2,200. Such a prosperity gap is
— Business Green
a time bomb, but might provide
a way forward. Would it not be a 267
strategy for human security and Worth in billions of pounds
global developmental justice if of the so called eco- 50
the early developed world spent barons — tycoons Investment in billion of pounds
a small fraction of its tremendous who have made either needed to make Saharan
serious investments in thermal solar power
income advantage to establish an
green technology and an attractive and viable
inexhaustible and sufficient energy
businesses or hefty prospect for private
source for everyone based on
financial commitments to investors
renewables? Just one thousandth — International Institute
environmental causes
of this income advantage, over for Applied Systems
— Business Times Online
$30,000 billion a year, would be Analysis
more than sufficient to launch the
DESERTEC Concept in the most
suitable desert regions around the 11
world, within one or two decades
Amount in billions of dollars 4,000
being set aside for “smart Number of cities around the
— thus overcoming global energy
grid” investments under world that switched off
inequity and social injustice and
President Obama’s their lights for Earth Hour
ending the increasing impetus of stimulus package - a global call to action on
climate change. — NY Times, Green Inc. climate change — WWF
© Simon Jarratt/Corbis

for Life

is Brazil’s Minister of Education

The past six years — since the June 5, • the psychological: building
2003 World Environment Day — have significant knowledge without
witnessed an astounding force of creating fear of the catastrophe
mobilization and passion permeating that is revealed or paralysis in
environmental education in Brazilian face of potential destruction;
schools. On that day, the National
• the educational: proposing a
Children and Youth Conference for
contemporary education solution,
the Environment was implemented in
which may rescue the social function
secondary schools throughout Brazil,
of the school as a creative and
and has proven to be a landmark in
transformative learning environment.
the country’s public environmental
My ministry’s Education Development
education policy management.
Plan enables integral education
in an initiative that seeks quality
The conference’s success is
in the teaching-learning process
reflected in the figures:
and student retention; and
the first one, in 2003,
involved 15,452 schools and • the planetary: engaging in a
mobilized 5,658,877 people high level debate so as to be able to
throughout the country. address global environmental change
The second, in 2005–2006, reached through sustainable societies.
11,475 schools and communities
“We passionately and 3,801,055 persons, and The task of the Ministry of Education
fulfil our witnessed our youth delivering is to involve students, teachers,
a charter to President Lula. youth and the school community in
Magna Carta, This Charter of Responsibilities, building a sustainable Brazil, with
the Federal “Let’s Take Care of Brazil”, equity, diversity and justice. This is
Constitution commits to constructing “fair, accomplished in conjunction with
of 1988, which happy and sustainable societies the Ministry of the Environment
with responsibilities and actions through the “Managing Commission”
explicates the
that fulfil dreams and needs”. formed ten years ago by the National
rights of present Environmental Education Policy Law,
and future The Third National Conference which establishes environmental
generations to process was held during 2008-09 education principles, objectives
quality education in 11,670 schools involving over and directives to be incorporated
4 million people in the school and into public agencies, educational
and to a healthy
state-level debates, culminating institutions, communications
and ecologically in a national event in April 2009. media, companies and society.
balanced As the conference occurred in the
environment.” midst of a global environmental/ An educational element was also
economic crisis, our environmental included in the 2008 National Plan on
education system has been Climate Change, making the ministry
confronted by a triple challenge: responsible for “Implementing


sustainable educational spaces the inclusion of sustainability the Environment and Life Quality”.
through re-adapting buildings and the socio-environmental Each commission promotes Agenda
(school and university) and challenge in the school 21 projects through interaction
management, and through teacher Political-Pedagogical Plan; and between the school and the
education and inserting the strengthening the role of the school community, so as to integrate
subject of climate change into the in constructing public education environmental education in the
curricula and teaching material.” and environmental policies. teaching system. Throughout
the country, Youth Collectives
But how to incorporate all of The material provides tools for and the Youth Network for the
this in formal education inside traversing environmental issues and Environment and Sustainability
the classroom? How could we interdisciplinarity in the classroom, are partners in facilitation,
create a school community with while respecting the complexity mobilization and training based
a responsible and committed of the subject and not over- on the principles: ‘youth educates
attitude towards local and global simplifying. Socio-environmental youth, youth chooses youth and one
socio-environmental issues? changes beyond climate change generation learns from the other.’
are treated systematically and
According to the 2001 School integrated into the sciences, We passionately fulfil our Magna
Census undertaken by the Anisio history, geography and languages. Carta, the Federal Constitution of
Teixeira National Institute of 1988, which explicates the rights
Educational Studies and Research, The topics involve the four elements of present and future generations
only 61 per cent to quality education and to a
of the secondary healthy and ecologically balanced
schools declared to “Throughout the country, Youth Collectives environment. This can be achieved
have implemented and the Youth Network for the Environment with bold and modern policies, the
environmental and Sustainability are partners in democratic participation of society,
education schemes. facilitation, mobilization and training the integration of school disciplines
In the 2005 census, based on the principles: ‘youth educates with traditional knowledge, and
environmental youth, youth chooses youth and one school communities that consider
education was generation learns from the other.” all aspects of the quality of life —
almost universal, environmental, economic, political,
as declared in social, cultural and ethical.
97 per cent of schools. — earth, water, fire and air — with
The Children and Youth Conference the contemporary problems The 3rd National Conference
could be seen almost as a affecting people and natural received 70 international Observers
“pedagogical pretext” to include systems throughout the planet. from 43 countries, in preparation
and update the debate so urgently Each topic includes debate for the International Children and
needed in society, from a critical on sustainable actions for Youth Conference — Let’s Take Care
and participative environmental mitigative, adaptive, preventive, of the Planet — which will be held in
education perspective. and transformative measures. Brasilia from June 5 – 10 of 2010.
The material proposes changes The International Conference has
The third National Conference to the world-view, that rescue been incorporated into UNESCO’s
incorporated the topic Global values that improve quality of Decade of Education for Sustainable
Environmental Changes: think + act life, and that rethink human Development, and will help to
in the school and in the community. responsibilities for the present futher the debate on UNDP’s
Quality didactic material was and future of life on earth. Eight Goals of the Millennium.
distributed to all secondary teaching We also reaffirm values and actions
networks in the country (58,000 Far from being just an event, the proposed by civil society, such
schools) with the objectives Conference offers continuity, since as the Treaty on Environmental
of: contributing to improving it is part of a larger programme, Education for Sustainable Societies
school performance based on the which encompasses continuous and Global Responsibility, the Earth
results of the Basic Education education of teachers and the Charter, the Agenda 21 and the
Development Index; encouraging creation of school “Commissions of Charter of Human Responsibilities.


Garbage-powered garbage truck
An electric refuse collection van powered by the
rubbish it collects has been put into action by
Kirklees Council in Yorkshire, in what council leaders
believe to be a world first. The battery-powered
electric van, supplied by Smith Electric Vehicles, will
be used to empty 25 newly-installed split litter and
recycling bins around Huddersfield town centre. The
waste that cannot be recycled will then be taken to a local Energy from Waste (EfW) plant, which combusts Vintage Furniture with a Modern Twist
it to generate electricity that will in part be used to recharge the van’s battery. Livin Pop’s philosophy is to make old new, and their
aesthetics are inspired by the 1950s and 1960s. The brand is run by Lucila Nissen and Sofia Moreno, two
Brazilian designers who sell their furniture through
their website. For those outside Buenos Aires, their
Solar Drier pieces offer great ideas to rejuvenate old bits and
As a land-locked country with poor transport pieces you may have found at the flea market.
infrastructure, no glass manufacture or canning
facilities, Ugandan farmers were frequently left
with fresh agricultural produce going to waste for
lack of markets. Adam Brett and Angello Ndyaguma
have turned this excess fruit into a profitable
export business by designing affordable, easy-to-
build solar driers made from frames, locally available mosquito meshing and long lasting plastic (the only
imported material). Now their Ugandan company, Fruits of the Nile produces and exports about 120 tonnes
per year of high-quality dried banana and pineapple from its factory in Njeru. The fresh fruit is prepared and
dried in simple solar driers that serve 120 producer groups in rural areas.

Recyclable cars Swept away

Safety has always been the first thing that springs Quiet, effective and eco-friendly – the Ultra Silencer
to mind when the automotive conversation turns Green Vacuum cleaner delivers on all three counts.
to Volvo. However the announcement that all new This new gadget from Electrolux is made up of 55
Volvos are 85 per cent recyclable and 95 per cent per cent recycled plastic, a process that saves two
recoverable is set to make the Swedish automakers litres of crude oil and 80 litres of water per vacuum
synonymous with eco-friendliness. Volvo is designing cleaner. Better yet, this energy efficient vacuum
its cars with an eye to using recycled non-petroleum cleaner uses 33 per cent less energy during use
derived parts, and making them easier to recycle than other equivalent cleaners. And the cherry on
when their useful life is over. Volvo cars now come equipped with dashboards and ceilings made of flax and the cake : the vacuum cleaner is also the quietest
cellulose rather than petroleum-based polymers, as well as car seats manufactured from natural fiber and model on the market.
soya-based foam fillings. ultrasilencer-green-vacuum-cleaner.html

A greener apple
Dubbed the world’s most energy-efficient desktop computer, Apple’s Mac mini has been designed to make the tiniest
environmental impact possible. Specifically, energy-efficient hardware components in the computer dynamically adjust
power consumption to reduce the energy used overall. Apple has also worked hard to eliminate many of the toxins that
are a common part of computer manufacturing. For instance, the new machine is BFR-free and its internal cables are PVC-
free. Finally, the volume of the Mac mini shipping box is 60 per cent smaller than previous models, allowing more boxes
to be shipped at one time, which means fewer boats and planes are used, resulting in less CO2 emissions.


Around the World
practical action
in a Soda Bottle Catamaran

In May, David de Rothschild and a handpicked crew of experts will set sail 8,000 miles
across the Pacific Ocean in a boat made out of recycled consumer plastic bottles. The
Plastiki’s mission is to capture the imagination of the global media and bring people
around the world to rethink our human impact on the natural world and oceans. The
voyage will sail through a number of exciting, challenging and environmentally sensitive
regions, including the ominously named Eastern Garbage Patch, an area six times the size
of England where plastic outweighs plankton by 6 to 1 – essentially the world’s largest
waste dump.

Supported by Adventure Ecology’s network of global supporters and institutions, the

Plastiki aims to use the expedition to heighten worldwide consciousness of the extreme
challenges that our oceans and their inhabitants face due to excessive human debris,
overfishing and a rapidly changing climate. Developed and built in association with world-
leading institutions, engineers, designers, marine architects and sustainability experts,
the 60-foot Plastiki catamaran exemplifies groundbreaking thinking and sustainable
design solutions at every level.

A Courier Company Cuts its Footprint
Recognizing the critical role that the transport industry plays in global warming, Delia
Claasen, the founder of South African delivery company Cape Couriers, decided it was time
to put a cap on her company’s carbon dioxide emissions. Currently, Cape Couriers employs
an external consultant to measure the company’s carbon footprint and Claasen and her
employees are all striving to reduce their electricity, waste, vehicle and air travel impacts
wherever possible.

Beyond this, Cape Couriers have commissioned Food & Trees for Africa, the 2007 UNEP
Sasakawa Award winner, to help them voluntarily offset these emissions. Through
the National Tree Distribution Programme, FTFA receives numerous applications from
disadvantaged schools and communities in barren, dusty environments which need trees
to address environmental and sustainable development issues.

In order to offset a year’s emissions, Cape Couriers is now in the process of donating more
than 2,300 trees to schools and community projects around South Africa.

Mobilizing Communities to Think Global, Act Local

‘Communities uniting to combat climate change’ is the proactive theme of this year’s Clean
Up the World Campaign, a worldwide drive to clean up the environment. The initiative,
which first started in 1989 with the Sydney Harbour Clean Up, is now a global campaign
that inspires communities around the world to clean up, fix up and conserve their
local environment.

With this year’s campaign, Clean Up the World founder Ian Kiernan made a special call for
communities to join together and play a part in helping create a better environment for the
future. “Unity is of great importance when it comes to addressing the causes of climate
change.I think we all — no matter where we live — have a responsibility to protect our
planet and there’s no better time to start than now”, said Kiernan.


Free Bikes in Paris

In a bid to encourage people to give up the motor in favour of pedal power, the city of
Paris has launched a free bicycle scheme called Velib’ — getting hundreds of Parisians to
switch from four wheels to two, especially for short distances.

The system offers more than 10,000 bikes, allowing riders to pick up and drop off bicycles
throughout the city at 750 locations. The bike does not have to be returned to the same
pick-up point: you can take a bike from a rack near the Eiffel Tower, cycle to the Pantheon
and leave it in the nearest Velib’ stand there.

To access the bikes, riders can select a one-day card for 1 euro, a weekly card for 5 euros
or an annual card for 29 euros — giving Parisians a real incentive to stick with the scheme
for the long haul.

Paris is just one of a growing wave of cities offering free cycle schemes. Copenhagen,
Montreal, Helsinki and Barcelona are some of the others, and more cities are considering
5 similar systems.

Meru’s sustainable prison

In prisons worldwide, sewage disposal from a large number of inmates is often a major
health hazard for both the prison and the surrounding area. Meru GK prison in Kenya has
found a sustainable solution, treating its sewage and turning it into fuel.

A 130 cubic-metre fixed dome digester built by the German development agency GTZ
and funded by the EU is fed human waste, which it uses to produce between 50 and
90 per cent of the energy needed to cook for approximately 1,000 inmates. The system
is expected to provide the prison with cost savings of $36,000 annually, all the while reducing the pressure on local wood supplies. And after the
treatment, the bio-effluent is used as fertiliser for crop production.

In this case, the project pays for itself over time, and also allows for a drought-stricken region to make optimum use of the little water that is available.
According to the project’s Planning and Monitoring Adviser, Johannes Odhiambo, “the biodigester is an excellent way to put human waste to productive
use, while also protecting the environment.”
“Tropical deforestation
accounts for 15 to 20 per cent
of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) worldwide.”

Forests have permanently registration process is so

stabilised and sequestered complex that forestry provides
carbon since the beginning only two of the 1,511 projects
of life on the planet. They so far registered. So it is fair to
now contain around 60 per say that the Protocol has failed
cent of the carbon stored to integrate land use, the third
in terrestrial ecosystems. largest source of CO2 after
Releasing this could disastrously energy supply and industry.
accelerate climate change. This in turn has led to a failure
Yet enhancing forests’ carbon ANNA LEhMANN in integrating Africa into global
storage over the long term is Head of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at
carbon markets, since most
could permanently reduce the Sindictum Carbon Capital of the continent’s GHG come
concentration of the greenhouse and chair of the Forestry and Land Use Working Group from land use. This is now being
gas in the atmosphere. of the Carbon Markets and Investors Association recognized by the international
community. The United Nation’s
Tropical deforestation Climate Change Conference in
accounts for 15 to 20 per cent “So it is fair Bali in December 2007 kicked
of anthropogenic emissions off a hot debate on how to
to say that the Protocol
of greenhouse gases (GHG) provide the right incentives to
has failed to integrate land use,
worldwide, but is not yet governments and communities
the third largest source of CO2 after
addressed under the Kyoto to protect and enhance forests.
energy supply and industry.”
Protocol. Afforestation and
reforestation are eligible The main reason for the lack of
project options under its Clean integration of carbon credits
Development Mechanism produced by CDM Afforestation/
(CDM), but the project Reforestation (A/R) projects is


© Image Source/Corbis
their temporary nature. Forestry long-term funding needed to halve
CDM credits are only valid for 5 – 20 deforestation by 2020. It estimates
years, and then must be replaced, so that $7 billion per year can, and
of credits there is no demand,
they are not fungible (exchangeable) must, come from carbon markets,
with credits produced by projects leaving a funding gap of $ 11-19
that reduce emissions from fossil billion that would need to come from
fuel use. Traders and compliance
demand a mix of public and private sources.
buyers lack understanding of how
there is
to use them, so their prices are
no private sector investment.” Deforestation is driven on
heavily discounted. And industry three different levels:
covered under the traded sector of
the European Emissions Trading through the methodology jungle, • local
Scheme (EU ETS) is not allowed apply for validation and registration (encroachment, illegal logging etc.);
to purchase forestry credits for in the voluntary carbon offset • national
its own compliance, so as to avoid space. To put it simply: without (infrastructure works, urban
confusion in emission inventories. fungibility of credits there is no expansion etc.); and
The EU ETS is still the largest demand, and without demand there • international
offtaker for CDM credits, and thus is no private sector investment. (impacts of agricultural policies,
there is no demand for A/R projects.
logging bans etc of large countries).
All this means that the projects Private finance is urgently needed
gain very little financial incentive to tackle global deforestation.
Thus, a combined effort
from the CDM, and thus are The Eliasch Report for the UK
at project, national and
economically unviable and attract Prime Minister stresses that only
international level is needed.
little investment. The forestry the combined efforts of public
projects that still manage to survive and private funds can provide the
At project level, the Voluntary
economically, and make their way necessary short, medium and
Carbon Standard has been at


the forefront of

© Image Source/Corbis
developing forestry
carbon standards for
voluntary projects:
it has developed a
robust system for
issuing permanent
forestry credits,
which works in
developing countries
Project developers
have to identify
key risks to the
permanence of the
project which are
than categorized
and assigned a
level of magnitude,
gauging the level of the threat subsistence farming) Optimal
and its potential impact. The “...forestry credits
forest cover balances out different
project has to set aside a buffer can and need to be
land use purposes, resulting in
of 10 to 60 per cent of its area, optimal social, environmental and
considered permanent.”
depending on its risk category. economic benefits, but arriving at
it is a long process . A high level Privately funded project activities
At national level, land use planning of subsidiarity in decision making need to happen in parallel to work
is needed as a first step. Providing during the land use planning at national level, so as urgently
long-term regulatory certainty is process is essential if there is to be a to address local level drivers
essential if investors are to deploy balanced outcome between national and introduce tree planting and
capital. National level land use and regional level priorities. At the management systems with long-
planning will require capacity same time, emission inventories term viability that give farmers
building to enable governments to for land use needs to be set up, and communities incentives
take informed decisions on their nationally and regionally, a long to protect these carbon stocks.
economically and ecologically term activity that will require This can be achieved through
optimal forest cover. Too little substantial public investment in sensitizing and educating them,
forest cover will lead to increased capacity building and technology ensuring participatory planning
droughts, floods, salinisation, and transfer between now and 2020. and designing tree planting systems
drinking water scarcity, which will that bring long-term benefits.
drive poverty. Too much forest Once optimal local, regional and
national forest cover is defined, With buffers being held at both
a country should be ready to take project and national levels
“Optimal forest cover balances on a firm emission reduction forestry credits can and need
out different land use target, together with liabilities to be considered permanent.
purposes, resulting in optimal for assuring the permanence of Commercial insurance products
social, environmental and sequestered carbon. Countries payable in cash are not a realistic
economic benefits...” should hold buffers according to option in the short and medium
risks identified nationally and term to secure forest carbon in
cover, on the other hand, limits internationally. And while land use developing countries. However,
land for agricultural production planning and inventories are being the double buffer approach in a
and reduces foreign currency developed, countries should take on well governed system will provide
income (if agricultural commodities voluntary commitments to afforest, sufficient liability during the
are exported) or threatens reduce deforestation and enhance transition phase towards national
local livelihoods (in the case of sustainable forest management. and sub-national inventories.
Danish Climate and Energy Minister UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon at Delhi Summit
Connie Hedegaard on Sustainable Development on 5 February 2009

“Now the United States and all Zhang Guobao, head of the Chinese National “We should not argue who is more responsible,
other countries have to get concrete Energy Administration who is less responsible, who should do more…
about how to deal with the climate Climate change is a common,
challenge until 2020. This will be shared responsibility.”
“We should keep a close watch on the
the litmus test of the commitment.
development of cutting-edge (new
But as Todd Stern said in his
energy) technologies the world over
speech: The US is glad to be back in
and invest more to improve research
the negotiations. For my part I can
and development capabilities.”
assure you the delight is mutual.” Nobel Prize Winner Rajendra
Pachauri, the Chairman of
the Intergovernmental Panel
discussing his campaign to
turn Mumbai students into
US Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern, addressing the 2,600 delegates at
‘green warriors’
the March-April climate change talks in Bonn
Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo
Musyoka speaking at the East
African Health and Scientific “We want to show children
Conference in March 2009 “The science is clear, the threat is real, the facts on the what small steps, such
ground are outstripping the worst-case scenarios. The cost as conserving power by
of inaction or inadequate action are unacceptable. America switching off the lights and
“Climate change is not only itself cannot provide the solution, but there is no solution fans, can do,’’
an environmental issue, without America.”
but clearly a development
issue with a direct bearing
on poverty reduction, food
security, economic growth,
health, human rights,
governance and equity.” Indian students from Lok Sabha province in a letter to political parties and top leaders on March 6

“We are aware that climate change will have a severe impact on future generations. To keep
this world liveable, it is extremely important that we start using green energy sources like
solar energy, wind energy, biomass etc and stop wastage of water and electricity.”

Marie-Antoinette Alexis, Mayor of Victoria, Seychelles at a

Mayor’s meeting on climate change at UN-HABITAT on 26
February 2009

Dr Anthony Patt, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis commenting on

“All countries must work together to combat climate the possibility that solar panels in the Sahara could power all of Europe
change. In the Seychelles, our 116 islands are on
the front line. We can lose our beaches, our tourism,
our land and our way of life, if something is not “North Africa could supply Europe all the energy it needs…the sun is very
done quickly.” strong there and it’s very reliable.”


(SHS) in Bangladesh. It has
© Gallo Images/ Getty Images

shown that solar energy

applications can be scaled up
massively and rapidly to provide
affordable and climate-friendly
energy for rural people.
We started in 1996, installing
a few hundred systems a year,
now we are doing over 8,000
a month. We had a target of a
million systems by 2015, we now
expect to pass that in 2010.
I now dream of empowering

75 million people through
renewable energy technologies
in just six years. We have set our
own Millennium Development
Goal — reaching half the people

of the country by 2015.

Bangladesh is rich in sunshine so

our first initiative was to popularize
solar photovoltaic technology.
By owning a SHS, a rural family can
enjoy bright lights, televisions and
radios — and power their mobile
phones. The upfront expense is
high, but once this is paid off, there
Some say that renewable are no additional costs or ever-
technologies are too expensive increasing electricity bills. It makes
and high tech for rural people a huge difference to the quality of
in developing countries. That is life, and to income generation.
a myth. Renewable energy is More than 6,000 biogas plants and
a viable option for them, and 30,000 improved cooking stoves
The current winner of the Zayed Future have also been installed. Biogas
they can be reached through Energy Prize, is Founding Managing Director
a market-based model. of Grameen Shakti, and Deputy Managing technology is very appropriate for
Director of the Grameen Bank rural areas because it converts
Access to efficient energy is one of cow dung or poultry
the major obstacles to their social droppings into cooking
and economic development. More gas, light, and slurry, a
than 80 per cent of them depend good organic fertilizer.
on primitive energy sources,
which limit their opportunities, Larger biogas plants
endanger their health though can also produce
indoor pollution, and create electricity. The stoves
environmental hazards. I have protect mothers and
long felt a moral responsibility children from indoor air
to create alternatives for them. pollution, a major killer
Grameen Shakti — which I founded in developing countries.
and serve as Managing Director
— has already installed more than There were huge
200,000 Solar Home Systems challenges to SHS,


the first was to build a rural Thousands of happy clients are our women, right in their villages.
network. We worked with local greatest promoters and Shakti is And we are training more and more
and international engineering becoming a household name in rural local young people as solar and
institutions to recruit and train Bangladesh. More than two million stove technicians and biogas plant
engineers who are deployed rural people have benefited from masons. We plan to create 100,000
all over Bangladesh. We also our programmes. Solar electric light green jobs by 2015 and develop
trained local technicians and enables children to study longer and entrepreneurs who will promote
users, providing jobs, community better and improves health facilities and install renewable energy
support and efficient low-cost while solar-powered mobile phones technologies, while we provide
aftersales service. We initiated have made communication easier. financial and technical support.
scholarship programs for SHSs are helping small rural
schoolchildren, taught them about businesses to stay open late at night, I want to transform Bangladesh
renewable energy technologies increasing their income, while rural and make it a positive example
and trained rural housewives on
how to take care of their SHSs.

The second challenge was to

develop a suitable financial and
technical package for rural people.
Drawing on the Grameen Bank’s
experience, we introduced an
installment-based payment, which
reduced the upfront cost of a SHS,
making it as cheap as kerosene. shops are installing solar-powered of what a developing country can
Our engineers make monthly mobile phones and televisions do in response to the threat of
visits to check on the systems for to attract more customers. climate change, through applying
two to three years and offer their renewable energy technologies
services for a small fee thereafter. Biogas technology is paving the — and to create a green economy
way to a green economy and for millions of Bangladeshis
The systems soon came to sell transforming waste into wealth. who will be affected by global
themselves as villagers became It is helping rural farmers with few warming in the next decade.
aware of their multiple benefits. livestock to reduce their fuel costs,
Increased sales and local production enjoy bright light and produce We have a successful model in
reduced costs, enabling Grameen organic fertilizers. Larger sized place. It is replacing kerosene,
Shakti to achieve economies of biogas plant owners are making reducing the felling of trees,
scale and break even in 2002. extra income through giving boosting agriculture, and
connections to neighbours, and livestock, promoting organic
We have also successfully laid the many are also producing electricity. fertilizers and creating green jobs
foundation for expanding biogas and income. The SHSs we have
and improved cooking stove Besides being one of the cheapest installed are already reducing
programmes. We focused on strict ways of protect women and children Bangladesh’s carbon emissions by
quality control in constructing against indoor air pollution, 100,000 tons a year.
biogas plants, together with onsite improved stoves reduce wood
technical assistance and free after use by about 50 per cent, saving My personal Millennium
sales service — and trained local both time and money. They help Development Goals include
masons and the plants’ owners rural families to increase savings installing 7.5 million SHSs and
– creating a huge demand. and capital, protect their health constructing two million biogas
And we trained over a thousand and save the environment at the plants as well as creating those
local technicians to make and same time. No wonder interest 100, 000 green jobs. Even
repair improved stoves, setting up is growing — we are now making achieving only half of these
36 rural manufacturing units, our twice as many as last year. goals would be a source of
staff maintains quality control. We are creating skilled jobs for hope all over the world.


people 2009 UNEP Champions of the Earth
Erik Solheim Ron Gonen
Policy Leadership Entrepreneurial Vision

With two cabinet posts under his stewardship, Recycling mogul Ron Gonen saw opportunity in a very unusual place
Norway’s Minister of Environment and Minister – trash. The environmental entrepreneur’s brainchild, RecycleBank,
of Development Erik Solheim is putting the is an environmental rewards and loyalty company that helps
environment at the forefront of European politics. people turn their recyclable garbage into cash. Under RecycleBank’s
As a strong advocate of the integral relationship scheme, families that recycle earn points which they can redeem for
between environment and development, he has essentials at over 1,400 local and national retailers. Since its launch
been a key supporter of environmental actions in 2004, the initiative has been an unqualified success, expanding
at national and global levels throughout his into 18 states across the US. Increase in recycling rates to as
political career. Solheim spearheaded the early high as 90 per cent have been recorded in some neighborhoods.
implementation of REDD – Reducing Emissions from And RecycleBank has been very well received by the private
Deforestation and Degradation – with a grant of sector – Gonen’s company attracted a $2 million investment from
US$ 500 million annually. He also paved the way Coca-Cola as part of the beverage giant’s effort to promote recycling.
for Norway’s membership in UNEP’s Climate Neutral In Gonen’s own words, “The core of RecycleBank is the ability to
Network, catalyzing his country’s action towards a target and market to a captive audience that feels good about what
low carbon society. they are doing”.

Kevin Conrad
Policy Leadership

“We seek your leadership, but if for some reason you are not willing to lead, Janine Benyus
leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.” Kevin Conrad’s words to Science and Innovation
the United States delegation – which was one of the key hold-outs on plans for
a post-2012 treaty – are widely remembered as a key pivotal moment of the Janine Benyus, a pioneer and champion of the
2007 Bali climate change talks. Significantly, the resulting Bali Action Plan was biomimicry movement, is at the helm of the eco-design
the first time the role of tropical forests and deforestation in tackling global revolution. Her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation
warming was officially recognized. Now as Executive Director of the Coalition of Inspired by Nature inverts the way we all think about
Rainforest Nations, Conrad is campaigning to better align market incentives with design, advocating that we draw design inspirations
the sustainable use and management of tropical forests. Things are starting to from nature’s wisdom and adopt nature’s processes
move – the UN recently established the UN-REDD programme, which aims to help to solve some of our challenges. As the President of
developing nations fight deforestation and receive funds through the sale of the Biomimicry Institute in Montana, Benyus has been
tradable carbon credits. Meanwhile, Norway is now putting serious money into consulting with sustainable business, academic and
fighting deforestation, pledging $1 billion for Brazil’s Amazon protection fund government leaders on what we can learn from nature’s
through 2015. These are just some of the initiatives that are currently mobilizing genius. The key idea is to draw inspiration from nature’s
some of the largest sums in history to support rainforest conservation. Conrad, clever designs and treat nature as model and mentor,
who is from Papua New Guinea, continues to campaign tirelessly to find ways for cherished as a teacher – not as a mine to be stripped
the international community to provide incentives for conserving rainforests. of its resources.
Tulsi Tanti
Entrepreneurial Vision

Tena Kebena Tulsi Tanti is the Chairman and Managing Director of Suzlon
Next-Generation Champions Energy, the fifth largest wind turbine manufacturer in
the world and the largest in Asia. Widely referred to
The Next-Generation Champions category was created as India’s ‘Wind Man’, Tanti is credited for advocating to
to celebrate the new generation of dynamic, passionate fellow industrialists, the environmental and economic
individuals and organizations around the world who advantages of staying off the power grid. The company
are making a real difference for the environment. There was a true precursor, exploring wind energy in the late
could be few more inspiring examples of this than Tena 1990s as an alternative to costly and erratic electricity
Kebena, an organization in Ethiopia that brings together supply to its textile business. Realizing that wind was
around 80 children and youth, many of whom have not just the answer to Suzlon’s energy needs but could
been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The group also fuel the growth of other industries, the company
cleans up and rehabilitates garbage dumpsites around sold off its textile manufacturing and entered the
the city of Addis Ababa through reforestation, turning relatively new field of wind-turbine generators. With
mountains of trash into hills green with trees, herbs and the price of oil recently hitting an unprecedented high,
flowers. The sites are also used for urban agriculture – Tanti believes that wind is the energy of the future and
on what used to be a waste pile, the young gardeners Suzlon intends to help launch this industry into the
are churning out lush rows of vegetables through mainstream. “Yes, green business is good business,”
organic methods and waste water collection. And in this says Tanti. “But it’s not just about making money.
beautifully sustainable cycle, agricultural produce and It’s about being responsible.” Suzlon’s main factory,
herbal medicines grown from the urban farm are sold in the southeastern Indian city of Pondicherry, runs
to provide funding for the project and for the children’s exclusively on wind power and collects rainwater to
learning activities. tend to its grounds.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Inspiration and Action

Through his breathtaking aerial photographs from the remotest parts of the globe, French photographer
Yann Arthus-Bertrand has helped people around the world see our planet in a new light – beautiful,
fragile, threatened. His iconic books have moved millions and a public art exhibition the ‘Earth From
Above’, which premiered in Paris in 2000 to unprecedented success, went on to travel to cities around
the world. By 2008, over 130 million people on every continent had visited the exhibit. The images are
a stark call to action, combining vivid images of the beauty and vulnerability of our planet with detailed
captions describing the environmental pressures it is under. In 2005, Arthus-Bertrand formed GoodPlanet.
org, an environmental organization whose objective is to educate about sustainable development and
urge individuals across every culture and background to think about the future of all of our planet’s
inhabitants. Through, Arthus-Bertrand worked with the French Ministries of Education and
Environment to produce 22 educational posters on sustainable development featuring his aerial photos.
The posters were given out for free to every school in France. Arthus-Bertrand is now preparing a feature-
length film about our planet which will be distributed around the globe on World Environment Day.
© Bernd Vogel/Zefa/Corbis

summers and worse natural coast, China is already feeling

disasters. In a recent Greenpeace the effects of climate change. It
commissioned survey in 10 Chinese has become crystal clear both
LI YAN cities, global warming was picked to political leaders and to the
as the second biggest threat to public that current energy- and
is a climate and energy campaigner
for Greenpeace, China the world — after air and water resource-intensive development
pollution. The is unsustainable. And the scary
younger the fact that a new coal thermal plant
“There are two famous, but curiously
respondents, the is connected to the grid every two
contradictory, Chinese sayings about the
more concerned weeks has gravely damaged the
relationship between people and the natural
they were about country’s image. It will not be easy
world: tian ren he yi and ren ding sheng
global warming. to decouple skyrocketing carbon
tian - ‘nature and man are one’ and ‘man
emissions growth with rapid
can conquer nature’. Together, they may China’s growth economic development, but it is the
provide an insight into how China will over the past nation’s momentous task to pursue
grapple with climate change.” couple of decades a green, low-carbon economy.
has been driven
China’s leaders do not merely by the expansion The magnitude of the challenge is
see climate change as a problem of manufacturing and large scale well known, but few realise that
with nature, but as a development urbanisation. This has boosted the China has taken significant steps
issue. Tackling climate change number of power plants which emit towards solving the problem. A plan,
involves many aspects of economic more and more carbon dioxide and launched at the beginning of 2006,
development and will need health-damaging air pollutants. aims to reduce energy consumption
to be addressed by a number per unit of GDP by 20 per cent
of government ministries. From drought-hit wheat farmlands from 2005 levels by 2010: by the
in the north to melting glaciers on end of 2008 half of this had been
The Chinese public believes that the Tibetan Plateau and villages achieved. Far reaching measures
climate change will bring warmer eroded by sea water on the eastern include setting annual energy
and high vehicle fuel economy
standards are making compact local governments’ top agenda:
cars increasingly popular among pursuing GDP growth often
emerging middle-class families. outweighs energy saving and
pollution reduction targets. And
“The current But much more needs to be done. climate concerns may rank even
economic crisis China remains one of the world’s top lower among big state owned
provides an carbon dioxide emitters and, despite enterprises. Institutional and
unprecedented these measures, its emissions fiscal arrangements must be
opportunity are growing at an alarming rate integrated into the policy package
to make these — as are the rest of the world’s. to ensure implementation
investments Yet time is running out, and global at all government levels
in a way that greenhouse gas emissions must
creates jobs, peak before 2015 and drop by at Given enough confidence, ambition
rebuilds critical least 80 per cent by mid-century. and immediate action, China can
infrastructure become a world leader in renewable
and lays the This raises big questions for China. energy. Yet there is still a lack
foundation What should it be doing to achieve of understanding among senior
for a new green a low-carbon economy? How can officials, of the significant role it
energy economy.” it move away from its heavy use of could play and it still faces such
coal? Answers — and fundamental difficulties as an unfavourable
changes — are needed urgently. pricing system and poor grid
connection. Nevertheless, the public
A start has been made in the wants it and is willing to pay for it:
saving targets for the 1,000 biggest twelth five year plan and other new survey respondents said they would
energy-consuming companies, legislation. A new draft Energy pay an average 17 per cent more for
and closing down thousands of the Law places strong emphasis on cleaner energy like wind and solar
most polluting small power plants. rethinking the energy structure and power, with younger people willing
China is also vigorously pushing reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to pay the most. And 81 per cent of
renewable energy. By the end demonstrating that greener those asked said that they wanted
of last year it had exceeded its development is not just possible, their country to adopt a global
goal of having 10GW of installed but desirable. The determination role at the climate negotiations
wind power by 2010. Last year, of top leaders will drive investment in Copenhagen this December.
on average, a wind turbine was into energy efficiency and
installed every two hours, and the renewable energy. The current China is now truly in the spotlight,
industry is the fourth largest, and economic crisis provides an but responsibility also rests on
among the fastest growing, in the unprecedented opportunity to other major economies such as
world. China is also the biggest make these investments in a the US. A Sino-US partnership
producer of solar electricity cells and way that creates jobs, rebuilds to tackle climate change is now
has more solar water heating than critical infrastructure and lays widely considered to be key to the
the rest of the world put together. the foundation for a new green strong international solution that
energy economy. Measures must be agreed in Copenhagen
The high profile energy-saving must be put into place as soon to avert climate disaster.
target marks a new era in as possible to make sure the four
government taking environmental trillion RMB stimulus package China’s young generation — myself
and climate issues much more announced last December will be included — back technological
seriously. It is mounting a spent in these sustainable ways. solutions to climate change
major drive to promote energy- and cementing the political
efficient household appliances: Yet, in many places outside resolution to put them in place.
this year it plans to subsidise Beijing, tackling climate change Maybe this is a positive way in
100 million energy-saving and preventing environment which to interpret the saying,
bulbs. Meanwhile, fuel taxes degradation is still not on the “man can conquer nature”.
© Gallo Images/ Getty Images

Driving away
oil addiction “’s expensive; it’s politically insecure; it won’t last forever; and
it creates vast amounts of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

“How do you make the world appear to be at odds with economic

a better place by 2020?”. ones. This misalignment is
The question, posed to the group no longer sustainable. We all
of Young Global Leaders at the know the hazards of oil:
World Economic Forum in 2005, it’s expensive; it’s politically
spurred me to an entirely new life insecure; it won’t last forever; and
direction, focused on solving a it creates vast amounts of harmful
single problem: how do you run a greenhouse gas emissions.
country without oil? I realised that Yet we continue to fill up our cars.
is the founder and chief executive of Better Place we had to separate the cars we drive
from the petrol that has had such We are emotionally connected to
a negative impact on our economy our cars: we don’t like to share
and environment, and to usher in a them, and we like to drive them
new era of sustainable transport. fast and far. Yet, while we would
not let our kids burn fuel in their
In the current economic climate, bedrooms, we collectively burn up
environmental interests can their living room — our planet.


Transport innovation must play
a critical role. According to the
International Energy Agency,
transport accounts for nearly a
quarter of the world’s carbon
emissions. Electric vehicles (EVs)
present the opportunity not just to
minimise, but to eliminate, these
completely from personal transport.
Transport as a sustainable service
— with zero-emission vehicles
powered by renewable energy —
eliminates oil and carbon from the
equation, allowing us to combat
the climate crisis without giving
up our personal freedom.

Many solutions to transport,

economic and environmental
problems are piecemeal —
disconnected and short-term.
The hybrid car, for example, is
only a stop-gap solution that
prolongs our oil addiction, while
only slightly reducing its use.
Rising oil prices and environmental
degradation have shown that we
must change how we fuel transport.

Several technologies are jockeying

to replace the internal combustion
engine. We have studied them
all, and decided that the electric
drive train is the best. It will
The price of driving cars in our cities interests and use people’s natural transform our cars into vehicles
is paid in deaths and respiratory motivations and behaviour to help that produce prosperity in harmony
disease from smog. The price our planet with the environment and end oil
of extracting and burning fossil thrive. addiction. So the battery-powered
fuels from deep in the ground is “Rising oil electric vehicle is the centrepiece
a change to the Earth’s delicate prices and In December, of the vision of Better Place, the
atmosphere which regulates life. leaders from company I launched in 2007.
We may each be able to afford around the
enough petrol for our cars, but we world will The opportunity to move to electric
have shown
cannot afford to lose our only planet. meet in transportation is both global
that we must
Copenhagen (evident throughout the world) and
change how we
What if we take oil out of the to discuss local (cars, regulations, driving
equation? Sustainable transport
fuel transport.” and outline patterns and energy usage vary).
can help the Earth prosper on plans for an So Better Place is rolling out its
many levels. By breaking the ambitious solution on a market-by-market
world’s oil addiction we can realign strategy to eradicate the threat basis, focusing initially on those
environmental and economic of global climate change. most conducive to fast EV adoption.
© Gallo Images/ AFP

green affordable
for everyone.
Software will
optimise the use of
energy, providing
reassurance to the
driver, efficiencies to
utilities and overall
cost effectiveness.

As we decrease our
dependency on oil,
we create a carbon-
free economy that
generates new jobs,
levels the global
playing field, and
creates sustainable
and environmentally
beneficial growth
We work with all parts of the Better Place connects clean energy for future generations. We
transport ecosystem, including sources, through the existing and our worldwide partners —
automakers, battery suppliers, electricity grid, with car batteries — including auto makers, battery
governments, utilities, energy providing drivers with an alternative manufacturers, energy companies
companies and infrastructure to burning gasoline. Doing this and governments- are making
providers. Better Place builds on a scale that can move an entire rapid progress. Israel has declared
the infrastructure network and country is to create a virtual oil its commitment to be oil free by
services that will enable individuals, field — one that will never run dry 2020. Denmark committed to a
businesses and governments and will not kill us in the process. renewable energy-powered electric
confidently to adopt EVs anytime, car network, presenting new
anywhere. Since our inception, The infrastructure includes opportunities for its considerable
two years ago, Israel, Denmark, hundreds of thousands of charge stores of wind energy. Australia
Australia, California, Hawaii spots per region, in private homes, decided to reduce its carbon
and Ontario have committed to workplaces and public places. footprint by utilising its robust
deploying These are supplemented by a renewable energy supply. The
electric car network of battery switch stations California Bay Area will be the EV
“As we decrease networks. that will allow drivers to swap a capital of the U.S. And Hawaii has
our dependency depleted battery for a full one, the goal of changing from getting
on oil, we create Simply put, in less time than it takes to fill a 95 per cent of its energy from
a carbon-free we buy tank with petrol, thus removing imported oil today to meeting 70
economy that batteries and the main perceived EV constraints per cent of its energy needs from
generates new renewable of long battery recharge time clean energy by 2030. Twenty-
jobs, levels electricity and limited driving range. five more countries around the
the global and sell world are already talking to Better
playing field, miles — while Better Place will own both the fixed Place about how to be next.
and creates developing infrastructure of this system and
sustainable and infrastructure the batteries (separating battery We believe we are on an accelerated
environmentally that ownership from the car). By making path to something truly amazing:
beneficial makes EVs the battery an extension of the sustainable transport and economic
growth convenient, infrastructure, we can provide growth that really benefits our
for future affordable and consumers with greener and planet, and leaves nothing behind
generations.” appealing. cheaper motoring, making being — except the addiction to oil.
This bilingual source of news, analysis and discussion on all environmental
issues with a special focus on China is the brainchild of, an
independent non-profit organization.

Your Planet Needs You:

Useful Links One of a rapidly growing number of community-based sites, Your Planet Needs
You exists to inspire and support people who want to live more sustainably.
This page contains links to websites from governments,
international organizations, non-governmental organizations,
businesses, media, and other groups from around the world A children’s site, ‘The Science of Survival: Your Planet Needs You’ includes
to help you finds information, resources and ways to help the interactive, educational games based around the theme of survival on a
planet. We have compiled these links from our own review of changing planet.
the vast amount of information available on the Internet to help
you to find the most relevant sources for your research. Our Planet
magazine does not, however, endorse the viewpoints of any of the A UK environmental charity, Global Action Plan helps households, workplaces,
groups to which we link, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the schools and the wider community to reduce their carbon footprint.
information posted on these sites. Rather, we hope to provide you with a
broad range of opinions and perspectives.
The World Tourism Organization’s climate change and tourism site.

UNEP is a partner in UNite to Combat Climate This climate change and global warming portal contains links to climate

Change, the United Nations campaign to change news feeds, a blog and social network.

encourage civil society and communities around

the world to unite and act now to combat
climate change. This informative portal gathers websites from around the world focused on
environmental topics.
An unprecedented worldwide tree planting initiative, Plant for the Planet: The
Billion Tree Campaign has the ambitious goal of planting seven billion trees – Conservation International’s website features an innovative carbon calculator
one for every person on the planet – by the end of 2009. and eco-rating quiz.
The Climate Neutral Network (CN net) is an initiative led by UNEP to promote Africa has contributed less than any other region to the greenhouse gas
global action and involvement in moving towards low carbon economies and emissions that are widely held responsible for global warming. But the
societies. continent is also the most vulnerable to the consequences.
Supported by UNEP, Clean Up The World Weekend each year inspires an This Australian government site provides energy saving facts, advice and
estimated 35 million volunteers from more than 120 countries to clean up practical tips, ranging from how to switch to renewable energy to the
and conserve their local environment. In 2009, the event takes place on powerful black balloons advertising campaign.
18-20 September.
Available online, Kick the Habit is a UN Guide to Climate Neutrality for
governments, organizations large and small, businesses and individuals who un
want to embark on the path to climate neutrality.

to Copenhagen
Seal the Deal! is a powerful global campaign
to promote a definitive agreement on climate change when governments gather for the crucial UN climate convention talks
ing d
ot The European Commission’s ‘You Control Climate in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Change’ campaign website provides information


about climate change in 21 languages, including

tips for how individuals can help bring it The website of the Time for Climate Justice campaign, which was launched by
under control. a formidable coalition of non-governmental organizations calling themselves
the Global Campaign for Climate Action.
She so impressed Bill Clinton at a climate change meeting a little less
than two years ago that he called her “the most famous person to
take the stage today”. That was saying something, since Shakira was
sharing a platform with Larry Page, one of the founders of Google,
and the recently retired British Premier Tony Blair — not to speak of
the former President himself. But he may have been right. For the
award-winning singer, famed for her gyrating routine more
than for her IQ of 140, has so far sold 60 million albums
worldwide, making her Latin America’s most popular
performer ever.

The multi-Grammy winning
star — who just months
before had opened the
Hamburg concert in the worldwide
Live Earth bid to combat global warming
— was there on serious business. When she
got to the podium at the meeting of the
Clinton Global Initiative, she announced
a $40 million charitable donation
to help poor people recover from
natural disasters. Much of it went to
cope with the aftermath of Hurricane
Felix in Nicaragua. A few months
later she was meeting victims of
Hurricane Sidr in Bangladesh.
“I was devastated to see that
entire villages were wiped
away,” she said. “I will never
forget the faces of the mothers
who had lost their children.”

Shakira has been campaigning
— and donating money for —
sustainable development
since first achieving
success at the age of
18. She says it is “as
important to me as
my musical career”,
and it certainly goes

deep, back to her

“I will never forget the faces

of the mothers who had lost
their children”


own childhood. Her teachers (who rejected her for the school choir on the grounds that

© Gallo Images/ Getty Images

she sang “like a goat”) would take her and fellow pupils to help children who were too
poor to go to school to learn to read and write. Moved to find them “so hungry that they
couldn’t concentrate” she vowed that “if ever I found success, I would do something
about it.” Her resolution was reinforced by seeing glue-sniffing orphans, barefoot
and in tattered clothes, living in a park near her home in the northern Colombian
city of Barranquilla.

“Children are the most vulnerable population in the world and, at the same
time, they are our only hope for a safer world,” she believes. Now a UNICEF
Goodwill Ambassador, she has focused particularly on campaigning for
universal education worldwide, and has lobbied both the US
Congress and Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister.
“Education can actually save lives”, she says.
“In the developing world, people who are born
poor will die poor, and that is because of the
lack of opportunities, opportunities that come
from education.”

She practices what she preaches. In 1995 she set
up the Pies Descalzos “Barefoot” Foundation, named
after her first big international hit and the children she had
seen in the park, which she initially largely funded personally.
It has built special schools from poor children all over
Colombia, so far educating some 30,000 of them, and
she now plans to replicate this worldwide. Two and a
half years ago she and Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel
Garcia Marquez, a fellow Colombian, launched
Latin America in Solidarity Action to fight child
poverty in the continent. Last year she was named
Humanitarian of the Year by the magazine
People in Español and in January she was
invited to perform at President Barack Obama’s
Inauguration celebrations.

She is determined to go on using her

fame to press for what needs to be
done. “It’s using the spotlight that
shines on me during a concert
and moving it away from me to
put it on the issues that need
attention,” she says. GL.

kira “Children are the most vulnerable population in

the world and, at the same time, they are our only
hope for a safer world”